The mood of pessimism that descended on the French Government after ten successive polls showing the “no” camp leading was echoed by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former French President, who drafted the constitution. He blamed the failures of the “yes” campaign on the half-heartedness of France’s leaders.
“Our current leaders are of course believers in the idea of Europe but in their heart of hearts they are not men and women who are inspired by a European feeling,” he told a French newspaper.
President Chirac will go on television tonight to deliver a last-ditch appeal to his country to resist the temptation to vote “no” and trigger a crisis for the whole European Union.
But the President, who called the referendum in July last year but has done little campaigning, was reported to be pessimistic and telling visitors to the Elysée Palace that he expected a “no”.
M Sarkozy’s outburst came after M Raffarin, who is expected to lose his job in the event of a defeat, told ministers and the leadership of M Chirac’s UMP party that they should avoid defeatism but be prepared to limit the damage from the crisis from a “no”, party sources said.